Hiding in a cupboard with an esky full of icy poles, a torch and a pile of paperbacks whose contents are a world away from the USA might seem a sensible approach to 2017[*], but for the sake of humanity, the better course is to stay informed, keep talking (in complete sentences), forge connections and find avenues for resistance.
Regarding Rights is delighted to announce the publication of two books: the first makes an important contribution to understanding how societies sometimes countenance – but also resist – the infliction of dreadful harm on their members, and the second to understanding how societies seek to repair past harms.
Cynthia Banham’s book, Liberal Democracies and the Torture of their Citizens compares how America’s liberal allies responded to the use of torture against their citizens after 9/11. While in many respects Australia, the UK and Canada share similar political cultures and alliances with the USA, they behaved differently when their citizens, caught up in the War on Terror, were tortured. Cynthia concludes that human rights activism played an important role in how each state responded, and that this activism was in turn influenced by different national rights cultures, domestic legal and political human rights frameworks, and political opportunities.
Cynthia’s book will be the subject of discussion at a RegNet bookclub on 28th March, with guests George Williams, Dean of Law at UNSW, and Richard Ackland, publisher of Justinian and The Saturday Paper’s legal affairs editor and roving diarist. Keep an eye on the RegNet events page for more details.
The backdrop to Bridging Divides in Transitional Justice, by Cheryl White, is Cambodia’s revolution under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, and the culture of impunity and silence imposed by successive national governments. Dialogue on the suppressed past began in 2006 as key figures of the regime were brought before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a specially created and internationalised criminal court. The ECCC forms part of the panoply of international criminal courts of the post-Cold War era. Cheryl highlights the dissonance between the expressivism of idealised international criminal trials and their communicative value within the societies most affected by their operation. She explores the communicative dynamics of ECCC trial procedure, which have sparked unprecedented debate and reflection on the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia.
[*] Feeling dispirited recently I went hunting in dusty wardrobes for PG Wodehouse but found instead HE Bates, who failed to cheer. I had forgotten that Pop Larkin doesn’t believe in paying his taxes either, and Ma is a terrible hypocrite.